Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
HK Cultural Centre Concert Hall
Reviewed: March 6
The most uneven parts of this programme of 19th and early 20th century Austro-German music stemmed from the woodwind's deteriorating intonation that reached a disconcerting level by the encore. Conductor Ingo Metzmacher might have done better to let the players rip through the Prelude to Act Three of Richard Wagner's Lohengrin than open with the pious Prelude to Act One. By the end of the evening, any sense of piety had gone from tepid to frigid.
Before the tuning went awry, the wind section had served Gustav Mahler's Kindertotenlieder well and the horns were particularly fine. The orchestra as a whole provided a model accompaniment for baritone Matthias Goerne, who found subtle variations for each of the six bleak songs about the death of children. There were some telling passages in his mid- and upper-range, but notes in the lower register were indistinguishable. We could have done without his distracting habit of touching his nose and performing tai chi motions at the start of phrases.
The orchestra's buoyant playing avoided the traps of triteness in the lengthy first movement of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No7, but the slow movement's memorial to Wagner never reached the breadth and solemnity it deserves, despite the intense warmth of the orchestral tuttis. The rollicking scherzo turned in more of a nimble waltz, while the finale offered burnished brass but little of the agitation under the music's skin.